ShindongA, Korean National Major Monthly Magazine, March 2016 issue
translated by PR Department of Tongil Group
Interview with Dr. Thomas Walsh, Universal Peace Federation International President
- Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Dr. Hak Ja Han Birthday and 3rd Anniversary of Foundation Day’ Commemoration Ceremony Hosted
- Motto of ‘Four Years of Hope’ is ‘Maturing into a Religion of the People’
- A Global Network Devoted to Creating an Everlasting World of Peace
The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Family Federation) named this year the ‘Four Years of Hope,’ the year four years leading up to 2020, which shall mark the 100th Birthday of Reverend Sun Myung Moon. And with the coming of the ‘Birthday of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han and the 3rd Anniversary of Foundation Day,’ they have spurred their movement toward putting their plans into action.
“By deciding on the motto of the ‘Four Years of Hope’ as ‘Maturing into a Religion of the People,’ the Family Federation plans on becoming a religion that receives the love and respect of the people by putting the teachings of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han into practice, centered on the ideologies of loving heaven, loving people and loving your country. For this, happy family communities, the practice of religion and culture in everyday life, the realization of peace on the Korean Peninsula, and many other major society movements, shall be fulfilled as core tasks, with the slogan of ‘Mankind as One Family, for the Realization of Our Dreams’ leading the way.”
Various Events Held
With the Birthday of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han (Lunar, January 6) and Foundation Day (Lunar, January 13) as the starting point of the actual new year, the Family Federation has prepared together with the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), various events from the ‘Birthday’ (Solar, February 13) to ‘Foundation Day’ (Solar, February 20), over eight days. At these events, 180 parliamentary representatives from America, England, Israel, Jordan, Eastern Europe, Asia and all over the world, as well as 40 journalists from eight Southeast Asian Countries that are experiencing the widespread teachings of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Nepal, as well as many religious leaders, attended.
As some of the major events the ‘Birthday’ of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han, the 2016 Heavenly Blessing, the Scholarship Certificate Presentation Ceremony by the Wonmo Pyeongae Foundation, the International Leadership Conference (ILC), the agreement to found the International Parliamentarian’s Peace Association, a prayer ritual for unification on the Korean Peninsula and World Peace, the General Assembly of Cheon Il Guk Leaders and the Filial Duty Music Festival took place.
We also took the time to hear about the significance of the event and the summarized activities of UPF from UPF International President and Secretary General of the Sunhak Peace Prize Association, Dr. Thomas Walsh, who hosted the ILC at the Lotte World Hotel in Jamsil, Seoul, from February 12 to the 16. Having accumulated academic knowledge in the fields of religion and ethics and earned his doctorate at the Vanderbilt University in the USA, President Walsh has worked as a teacher, author and editor specializing in the fields of interreligious relations, the science of religion, religions and peace, as well as philosophy and social theory. Currently, he is working as Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors at the University of Bridgeport, Vice-Chairman of the International Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as on the Board of Directors of the International Relief Friendship Foundation and the Washington Times.
‘Maturing into a Religion of the People’
▼ The significance of this event.
“The Birthdays of Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who was born in 1920, and Dr. Hak Ja Han, who was born in 1943, are both on the 6th of January on the lunar calendar. They are the founders of prominent world peace movements that have spread across the entire globe. The ethical and intellectual teachings, as well as ‘Living for the sake of others,’ transcends religions, nationalities and cultures to give inspiration to all mankind. The Birthday Commemoration Ceremony that took place on the 13th of February commenced in thousands of cities in over 150 countries simultaneously, becoming a grand event with the purpose of spreading and developing the peace heritages of the founders for the world’s seven billion people, going beyond the dimension of a traditional ‘festival.’ The heritages of the two leaders make up the core values and fundamentals of the groups and programs that they founded and professed throughout their whole lives. They can be summarized in the following synopsis.
First of all, all of mankind are members of one worldwide family. We are brothers and sisters that share the same origin of God, the Heavenly Parent and creator of all things. Secondly, the most basic unit of a society and a country is a family based on the marriage between one man and one woman. The family is the school of love, ethics and culture. If your family is strong and stable, then the society will also be stable. Third, the most important ethical principle is ‘Living for the sake of others.’ If this rule is respected and fulfilled, world peace can be realized. Fourth, religions offer psychological and ethical guidelines. We must respect religious lessons and learn from them. Taking ourselves and other religious people lightly must not happen. That is why interreligious talks need to take place. Learn from each other, and respect one another. Fifth, true peace is not merely about having no more wars, but about having harmony in human relations. Peace shall be realized, not only through harmony and cooperation between people, but also by respect for nature and the environment.
Many events took place during the period around the Birthday of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han in order to promote the realization of such principles and to contribute to peace. It is important to understand how much these two people are respected and loved by mankind, the world over. They are the source of change that inspires us and reevaluate our lives. They may be known as philanthropists and humanitarians, but they are also spiritual leaders of this time who proposed the vision that would change the history of many people and lead them into an everlasting world of peace. Those who understand this stand by them as their True Parents and True Teachers.”
United Nations Office on Korean Peninsula Suggested
▼ Which events took place during the anniversary?
“Many programs that promote the establishment of a world of peace were implemented after many people became inspired by the vision and leadership of Reverend Moon and Dr. Han. For example, UPF held the ILC with a topic of ‘Solving critical challenges of this era: responsibilities of the government, civil society and religious groups.’ Hosted by the Washington Times Foundation and the Segye Times, the conference covered topics including climate change, terrorism and the threat to peace brought on by the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea.
Climate change is an especially critical issue that the entire global community must be made aware of. Much progress had been made through the results of the UN Climate Change Agreement Conference of Parties held in Paris last December, as well as from the ‘UN Sustainable Development Goals’ held in September. However, participation from representatives from civilian society, the private sector, NGOs and religion-based organizations is especially important. The threats of extremism and terrorism are intensifying. This is an issue that can be solved not only through efforts from the government, but also through the work of religious leaders and religion-based organizations that promote tolerance, moderation and mutual respect. Today, many young people are tricked and controlled by Islamic terrorist organizations such as the ‘Islamic State’ or Al-Qaeda through social media in various forms.
Therefore, a new media platform must be utilized to promote mutual respect among young people. For this reason, we must take note that 180 active congressmen from fifty countries participated in this ILC. One session even took place at the Korea National Assembly Members’ Office Building. Among the topics that were discussed at this conference, there was a suggestion to form a world alliance of congressmen that have devoted themselves to realizing everlasting peace. To be installed as an affiliated branch of UPF, the existence of this alliance of congressmen shall contribute to the establishment of world peace. The suggestion to install a Secretariat of the UN on the Korean peninsula was considered during the ILC period, as well. The installment of a UN Secretariat that corresponds to the UN headquarters in New York, Geneva and Nairobi is to be proposed also. Even though we have faced the age of Pacific Asia, there are still no UN headquarters to be found in Asia.”
Emphasis on six core fields
▼ What sort of activities is UPF engaging in?
“UPF is a global network for individuals and organizations devoted to creating a world of peace. It is an NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, and engages in activities centered upon six core fields. The first is international conferences and the education of peace. Last year, UPF held widespread international conferences in various locations around the world including Korea, Japan, America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Africa. At these events, leaders in various fields such as government, religion, civilian society, private organizations, academics and the arts gathered to research and collaborate in order to reach solutions for pressing global issues. The ILC is a similar case.
Second, it is for the establishment of interreligious peace. UPF promotes interreligious talks in order to enhance the mutual understanding, respect and cooperation between people with various religious backgrounds. Interreligious talks are often critical conduits for peace in areas where people with different religious backgrounds are in constant conflict, such as in parts of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
The third is marriage and family. You might wonder how marriage and family can be related to peace, but the family is the most fundamental and basic unit of a civilized society. It is absolutely necessary in forming a functional society and nation. The family is a space where core values, ethics, culture, religion and even civic awareness are learned. It is also a very important economic unit. A healthy marriage and family leads to prosperity. Therefore, if many families become unstable, then the surrounding society also becomes more unstable. Extra efforts to strengthen a marriage and family are absolutely necessary when the traditional values of a family are being threatened. That is why UPF operates a marriage, family and humanity development office.
Peace and security is the fourth. Most of the activities of UPF are set to enhance peace by the ‘soft power’ approach of peace and the ‘man-to-man’ program. These are known as ‘the 2nd diplomacy’ or the ‘citizen diplomacy’ that have a goal of bringing about change within the heart. Along with this, we put effort into becoming familiar with the ‘hard power’ that appears in geopolitical and international relations. That is why it is important to understand the relevance between the political, military and economic power, as well as the current world situation. For this, UPF seeks the consultation of high-level think tanks that tend to solve specific geopolitical issues. In addition, a series of ‘peace initiatives,’ such as the Middle East Peace Initiative, South Asia Peace Initiative, Northeast Peace Initiative and the Balkan Peace Initiative that efficiently contributed to the peace in nearby areas were developed.
The fifth is youth and volunteering. UPF possessed a massive organization called the ‘Youth UPF.’ Young people are truly interested in the peace of the areas mentioned above. They wish to become ‘world citizens’ that interact with people from various backgrounds. UPF provides a welcoming foundation for such youths. There is also a project called the Religious Youth Service (RYS) that operates hundreds of programs for youths, centered on leadership education, public service based on humanitarianism and interreligious education.
The sixth is cooperation with the UN. Every Year, UPF branches hold events related to the major initiatives of the UN, such as the World Interfaith Harmony, the International Day of Families, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Global Day of Parents and the International Day of Peace. UPF takes on the mission of strengthening the solidarity between the civilization of the UN and the permanent observer of the African Alliance, and vigorously cooperates and shares the goals of many member countries of the UN in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.”